In this episode of THEBLERDGURL® PODCAST Karama welcomes back the multi-talented Rodney Barnes, a seasoned writer with an impressive career spanning from ’90s shows like “The Boondocks” and “Everybody Hates Chris” to his current work, “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” and “Wu Tang: An American Saga.”
During their chat, Rodney shares some exciting news about his upcoming comic project, “Florence and Normandie,” which is a cool collaboration with rapper Xzibit. and reveals Todd McFarlane agreed to a SPAWN appeaernce in “Killadelphia” .
And just in time for Halloween, Rodney has dropped the trailer for his new horror podcast, “Run Fool.” It’s perfect for horror fans who love creepy anthologies.
This was a really fun epsidoe. Please comment and subscribe!
Rodney Barnes will launch the new horror podcast ” Run Fool” in November
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- Florence & Normandie
- Blacula: Return of the King
Karama (00:00:00) - Rodney, I am so excited that you are back to join me. It's been a minute. I think the last time I talked to you it was my live stream on Twitch and it was like 2021, which is like 35 years ago.
Rodney (00:00:13) - That's way too long. That's way too long. I'm about ten years older. Exactly.
Karama (00:00:18) - It's like I keep telling everybody like the pandemic was the blip, so we all lost about a decade. I have some notes about what we talked about last time, and I think this is going to be really fun, sort of walk down memory lane for a second. So you were in the writers room for Winning Time season one the first time we spoke, winning Time The rise of the Lakers. Your hit show on Max now, season two just finished airing, and you've won a Black award and were nominated for an Emmy. Congrats. And you also did a podcast for that show, right?
Rodney (00:00:49) - Yes, I did the Winning Time podcast. Yeah.
Karama (00:00:52) - You also had just launched your own imprint, Zombie Love Studios, and inked a deal with Substack, where you run your Dark Apocrypha newsletter.
Karama (00:01:00) - Full disclosure I'm a subscriber. Nita Hawes: Nightmare blog, the spin off To KillAdelphia, had just come out, and you hinted that you might be doing a little something with Blacula. Yes. And now Blacula and Nita Hauser out kill Adelphia continues. You had another kids comic, I think Monster Monarch.
Rodney (00:01:21) - I did a book. Monarch. Yeah, it was a little bloody for kids, but yes.
Karama (00:01:25) - And then I saw.
Rodney (00:01:26) - Kids in it.
Karama (00:01:26) - There were kids in it.
Rodney (00:01:27) - Running for their lives. But yes, yes, poor kids.
Karama (00:01:31) - It was like anime. You were just killing them. Yeah.
Rodney (00:01:33) - There you go. There you go, there you go.
Karama (00:01:36) - And then I saw a mandalorian comic in there. Um, and then you recently you announced a comic with exhibit, and then somebody from your team sent me an Alice Cooper comic that features Prince and Michael Jackson in hell with Richard Pryor.
Rodney (00:01:53) - There you go.
Karama (00:01:54) - Yes. What are.
Rodney (00:01:55) - You. Miles Davis is in the background to. Oh my.
Karama (00:01:57) - God. So let's start with these comics, man. Uh, and also, since, you know, we're in spooky season and horror is your jam. Yep. Blacula return of the King. Yeah, that dropped January of this year, which also probably feels like 20 years ago.
Rodney (00:02:15) - It does.
Karama (00:02:16) - For those who don't know what is the premise. Is this tied to the original movie?
Rodney (00:02:20) - It is tied to it. I actually do a recap in every chapter is five chapters long and every chapter. I sort of use the movie as motivation and incentive to to sort of say why I did this. It's not literal in that sense, but why Prince Marmalade, aka Blacula is still relevant, why he fits in today's world, and then the ongoing narrative within the story is supporting that idea that he does fit in this world, and that he has a place and a significant place, and hopefully folks dig it.
Karama (00:02:59) - Well, it seems like a lot of folks are digging it. I believe that is the hardcover out.
Rodney (00:03:04) - The full hardcover comes out this spring that's actually being printed as we speak, but I think it's in previews now.
Karama (00:03:13) - And did Jason Shawn Alexander do the art on that or he did. That's your buddy. That's your partner in crime?
Rodney (00:03:19) - I don't know how when I when it's over for me and I get to wherever I'm going, I'm going to ask, what was Jason? Why do you why did y'all put me with Jason? Of all the people in the world, we have the same birthday to do.
Karama (00:03:30) - You really?
Rodney (00:03:30) - We do have the same birthday for being so different as human beings. We. It's like the universe is teasing us in some way.
Karama (00:03:38) - Wait, when's your now? I got to know. When's your birthday?
Rodney (00:03:39) - September 19th.
Karama (00:03:41) - I was just it just passed. Well, in fact, it passed a month ago. So happy belated, happy belated. Thank you very much. Jason's art is absolutely incredible. And that's one of the things that I've been like, fascinated with watching.
Karama (00:03:55) - Um, now winning time.
Rodney (00:04:00) - Winning time was canceled.
Karama (00:04:02) - Because Max canceled a lot of things this year.
Rodney (00:04:04) - It did, and we were along with it. I mean, I think it was tough. Whenever you try to bring a show in the midst of two strikes where you can't really properly promote it, a lot of people didn't even know we were back on, but very proud of the work that we did. You know, that was a it was an online campaign, I think, to try to bring the show back. And a lot of people who were outraged that the show had ended, so glad that some people loved it. And, you know, onward and upward.
Karama (00:04:36) - Absolutely. I mean, you have a long career in television and you've done so many incredible, incredible shows. I'm sure you're going to have another fantastic one next.
Rodney (00:04:47) - Lord willing.
Karama (00:04:48) - The you will. Oh, stop. Okay.
Rodney (00:04:51) - My kids are outside shipping right now. They nervous?
Karama (00:04:54) - Oh my God.
Rodney (00:04:55) - Is this it? Is it over daddy? I'm like well I don't know.
Rodney (00:04:59) - It's. Everything's got to end well.
Karama (00:05:00) - Let's talk let's talk about the strike just briefly. Because for people who don't understand that the actors union is still on strike, but the writers strike is now officially over. What was the win? What what was the the thing that you guys were able to do? And I know when I say you guys, I am clearly not referring to you yourself as the person who was doing all the negotiating, but.
Rodney (00:05:25) - I wish I was. No, I mean, I think we got we got the bumps in and pension and health care that typically we're shooting for. But I think the bigger things are limitations with AI restrictions as to how it's going to be used, larger writers rooms so that younger people get an opportunity to come in and build careers. Also, they can stay on writers get to stay on during production, which means that writers can come to set and they can learn how to actually produce and figure out how everything works. As far as the set is concerned.
Rodney (00:06:00) - And, you know, more often than not, you know, showrunners or executive producers are the only ones that stay on and come to set. And now the actual writer can as well. So there's a myriad of things. I mean, it's a really long list of stuff, but it was a win. I'm just sorry that it took so long, like so many months and there was so much acrimony. And, you know, a lot of people lost a lot of money and a lot of things, so that's unfortunate.
Karama (00:06:24) - Yeah. It's tough, you know? And like you said, a lot of people like yourself have kids, have families, have mortgages. And, you know, while you're striking, you're trying to stay afloat, you know.
Rodney (00:06:34) - Manage all that.
Karama (00:06:34) - Stuff. Yeah. It's it's it's tough. But I'm happy that a resolution was achieved. And I can't wait to see your your next TV show, too. But in the meantime, you got 157 comics. I do so.
Rodney (00:06:49) - Far too many as I look up to my board. Um, far too many books. Well, the.
Karama (00:06:55) - Last time we spoke, you said. I feel like I took a note on this. You said you you write something like 12 or 13 books a month. Are you still running at that pace?
Rodney (00:07:04) - It's 8 to 10 now. Okay. It feels like 12 to 13. Yeah.
Karama (00:07:09) - The. So. Okay, Blacula, is that getting another volume or is that okay. So you have that going on.
Rodney (00:07:17) - I want to do three volumes of Blacula. Blacula takes a little bit longer because both Jason and I are really, really busy. It's an expensive book to put together. It's a labor of love. So it's not just something that you sort of crank out.
Karama (00:07:31) - Yeah, it's very lyrical. Even the way the text comes in and out, it's not the same as your average like nine panel up, you know, fit everything in nice box.
Rodney (00:07:41) - It's inspired. Yeah. It's inspired.
Karama (00:07:42) - It's very inspired. You have all these other comics, these monarch now like the last one. Again, it's not necessarily for children. It's about children. It's another horror comic. The last volume drops or the next the.
Rodney (00:07:56) - Trade comes out. The trade is fortunately right. Well look at this. So this dropped about two weeks ago, a week ago I think a week ago for the trade paperback. But issue number six, which was the last issue in this miniseries, came out about two weeks before, two weeks prior.
Karama (00:08:21) - Okay. And for those who don't know what monarch is about, let's share a little bit about that.
Rodney (00:08:26) - Monarch is about an alien invasion that takes place in Compton on a regular day, seemingly above a middle school. And that's how the kids get involved. And unfortunately, many of the teachers don't make it. The kids are the only ones that do, and they have to figure out how to survive amidst it. But there is one of the kids who may not be what he appears to be, so got it.
Karama (00:08:53) - Okay, so it's, you know, attack the block, Compton. But homeroom date.
Rodney (00:08:58) - You should have. You should have done that. I wasted everybody's time. You did it way better than I did. I don't even know why you let me talk. I should just sit here. You just sold the book. I'm ready to buy six trade backs myself.
Karama (00:09:13) - Now why, Compton? Why don't you set it in Compton?
Rodney (00:09:16) - Because typically you don't see, you know, attacks from space, you know, things that have earthly implications. You know, massive scale. They typically only happen in, like, New York, LA, like over major cities. They don't they aren't very intimate. So I wanted to figure out a place that was intimate, that could speak directly to the culture. And more so than having this expansive thing. If you think Independence Day, you know, when they're over the white House and they're over certain cities and you've got the president involved, and yeah, there's some regular folks involved, but they have the power to make major decisions and affect this thing.
Rodney (00:09:56) - If you're just kids, you got to figure out how to survive. Yeah. So it's a much more intimate story.
Karama (00:10:02) - So Mandalorian, I have written one licensed comic and you've written a lot more. But in my limited experience, the playground smaller because you're playing with somebody else's toys. But is it fun to be in that Star Wars universe?
Rodney (00:10:19) - So yeah, it's an honor. It's it's an honor to be able to play in such a big world. I mean, I think I've done adaptations and just regular scripted stories, too, but with the adaptations, they're very as you said, the boundaries are a lot closer and you have to work within the margins. I'm basically making the TV show a comic book, okay, I have to take something that's an hour long and make it 30 pages, which is 30 minutes of a sort. So it's all about picking and choosing what's going to live and what's going to die. You know, as far as the TV show is concerned, fans seem pretty happy with how we've adapted and, you know, put this thing together.
Karama (00:11:06) - Are you able to add anything in extra or do you literally? Yeah, that's the thing with license.
Rodney (00:11:11) - Even when I have like the quiet moments in the show when The Mandalorian is walking across the desert, I tried to put in some thoughts and to take all that out. All that's good, man. Now, ah, have you saw up there is what I got?
Karama (00:11:24) - What you have to. What you have to write. Well, are they making you go like is it each comic is an episode? Is it like that or is it?
Rodney (00:11:32) - Oh, each comic is an episode. And you do season one. I've done season one. Season two, and I'm waiting for season three.
Karama (00:11:37) - Gotcha. I mean, that's that's and it's interesting because you would think they'd want to expand a little bit, but I guess they're trying to play into people who might not watch the show but be interested in specifically the comics. But fans are going to buy all of it, I think.
Rodney (00:11:53) - Yeah, or they have.
Rodney (00:11:54) - They bought a half a million of the first one.
Karama (00:11:56) - So whoa. Awesome. And also, you are now part of the Star Wars universe. I am.
Rodney (00:12:02) - I.
Karama (00:12:02) - Am. That's the coolest part of going to like any of the wiki. Like when I go to Marvel Wiki, I'm like, ha! I created that. Like, so you could like go to the Star Wars Wiki. And when they talk about the Mandalorian comic, like your name is in there, it's in you are.
Rodney (00:12:14) - Now or now, gee, $88. I'm doing a new Star Wars scripted book now. So yeah.
Karama (00:12:19) - Now, is that a prose or is it a comic book?
Rodney (00:12:22) - I have one, no, it's a comic. I have one series that's new. It's a horror series. Star Wars horror series I can't talk about. And then I have another adaptation of another Star Wars property that I can't talk about either. But I can say I'm doing it.
Karama (00:12:39) - But horror is your jam, so they knew what they were doing.
Rodney (00:12:44) - It seems like there's something there. I mean, I think because television has mostly been comedy and drama with some general sprinkled in, I wanted to get my horror fix in some way. I didn't want these things to fall by the wayside when you had ideas. So, you know, it's a nice way to be able to to express oneself in the horror realm.
Karama (00:13:07) - It's kind of working for you because we're about to be 31 issues into Philadelphia.
Rodney (00:13:12) - We are, we are.
Karama (00:13:13) - And I just got a chance to see the 31st issue. And I was tripping because I'm like, that's SPAWN.
Rodney (00:13:20) - That is bomb.
Karama (00:13:21) - That is not Seesaw, that is SPAWN
Rodney (00:13:24) - No Seesaw was in there. Yeah. Him and SPAWN are in panels together and talking and doing a whole bunch of stuff. But yeah, we've got.
Karama (00:13:32) - There doing more than a whole bunch of stuff. He kicks his ass. There you go.
Rodney (00:13:35) - I'm glad you said I don't even know why I'm talking. You said so much better with so much more energy.
Rodney (00:13:43) - Yeah, this six arc is kind of eventful for our little book. We've got spawn, we've got Blacula, we've got Dracula, we've got. So wait.
Karama (00:13:52) - You can bring your you're bringing Blacula, your Blacula.
Rodney (00:13:56) - Oh, my Blacula and the killer Duffy, this is throwing everything at the wall.
Karama (00:13:59) - And Anansi's already in there.
Rodney (00:14:01) - Anansi's already in there.
Karama (00:14:02) - Yep. So? So how did you get spawned? Like, is it. I mean, obviously Jason's drawing him, but, like, did you have to sit down with Todd McFarlane and go, this is what I'm doing for six issues?
Rodney (00:14:11) - Jason begged for a long time, and then I had a zoom and I kind of begged. But Jason had laid the foundation for the begging that I didn't have to beg too much. I had to basically just say, I know most of the alphabet and I promise not to do anything bad. And so there you go.
Karama (00:14:32) - I was wondering when that that was like a fight or whatnot. Todd was like, as long as I co-write it because I know, no, no.
Rodney (00:14:37) - He was incredible. No. Okay. Todd.
Karama (00:14:39) - Father's cool. Okay. Todd. Father. Yeah, I forgot his cool. Todd. Father I forgot. Oh my goodness. Oh. Need a horse? So need a horse. Weaves in and out anyway, because she's from the Adelphia universe.
Rodney (00:14:53) - She's in there too. She's in there for arc number six, too. She has her own thing and her connection. Be close with Blacula. Okay, then in the main fights, there's two things happening at the same time. You've got a fight happening in the streets, and then on the other hand, you have more of a quieter story about what the implications are for later on down the road for everything. So her James junior, Josie, they're kind of in the house wondering what's going to happen next. And then there'll be a knock on the door and they'll find out what's going to happen next.
Karama (00:15:28) - And then blood happens. There you go. Okay. It always comes.
Rodney (00:15:32) - Down to blood.
Karama (00:15:34) - Now, the Florence and Normandie. That's your new comic coming out with exhibit? Yes. So love book, first of all, where did you find exhibit? Where I found.
Rodney (00:15:47) - Exhibit. He was out rapping somewhere. Well, in the Fox Hills Mall. No exhibit is a friend. And we were talking one day and he knew that I did comics. And you can't follow me on Instagram and not see comics somewhere. And he said, you know, man, I got this idea. Okay, what's your idea? And as he talks, because I'm neurotic anyway, I'm forming. I'm doing a thing as he's talking. I'm just going through the Rodney later and.
Karama (00:16:20) - The Rodney later.
Rodney (00:16:21) - Yeah, it's a computer.
Karama (00:16:22) - So. Yes.
Rodney (00:16:23) - This way. Older than the first Mac. And, you know, coming up with a story. And then as he stopped talking, I was like, you mean something like this? And then I started talking. He was like, yeah, something like that.
Rodney (00:16:35) - And then we went back and forth and back and forth, and then I sat down and wrote a script, and he dug the script. And John, we did the art and we were off to the races.
Karama (00:16:46) - So now this is also horror, obviously. But what are they running from? Is this I feel like it's zombies. Aliens? No, it's aliens. Aliens. It's aliens.
Rodney (00:16:55) - We have another alien book. It's different than monarch in the sense that monarch is mostly an intimate setting and intimate implications just for those characters that are right there. Florence and Normandy has global implications, and it's it gets more of the idea of what you would expect the LA rap scene and what when you look at a video, any of those videos from that period of time, like The Chronic and all of that stuff, there are things that you see, you know, the imagery, that imagery is a part of this story, and it feels more like LA than monarch does.
Karama (00:17:33) - Okay.
Rodney (00:17:34) - And they're flashbacks to the symbolism of what Florence and Normandy represents and all of that.
Rodney (00:17:39) - There's a cop, there's a kid. It's more political, I guess. In some ways. So does it. A lot of stuff going on, but.
Karama (00:17:45) - It also looks like it might have like a little buddy comedy.
Rodney (00:17:50) - It know there's there's some jokes, but it's not so much. No, it's closer to The Defiant Ones. Okay. Movie The Defiant Ones, where two people are forced to work together in order to save themselves, but they hate each other, natural and enemies in this world that they operate in.
Karama (00:18:10) - Got it. Okay. And is that out or is that coming soon?
Rodney (00:18:13) - It's coming spring.
Karama (00:18:14) - So we're going to have to maybe circle back exhibit. Yes, please. You can have this conversation.
Rodney (00:18:18) - Exhibit on here.
Karama (00:18:19) - Too. Yeah. And then we can come up with like all of the little acronyms for all of the characters and everything. Yes. So Alice Cooper, yes, I need to understand because this image that I was set has, like you said, I'm looking at Richard Pryor and Prince and Michael Jackson and they're in hell.
Rodney (00:18:46) - No, they're not in hell. They're not in.
Karama (00:18:48) - Hell. Where are they? Because I see I see the devil.
Rodney (00:18:51) - But hold on, hold on, hold on. Between heaven and hell. Like in a purgatory like state. Got you. There is a blues club, okay? The devil desperately wants to be an entertainer. He is the main act in this club.
Karama (00:19:08) - And you better clap.
Rodney (00:19:09) - And he has gotten all of the famous musicians that are in the afterlife to come in to see him play. So that's where all of these people, Richard Pryor is the headliner. This person, it's like they all get an opportunity to play again, and then they go off to heaven, hell, wherever they go. But they are not in hell because the devil happens to be there and the devil loves the blues.
Karama (00:19:33) - And that was the pitch.
Rodney (00:19:35) - Yes, that's the pitch.
Karama (00:19:36) - So how does Alice Cooper get involved? He's trying to keep the devil from here's the problem.
Rodney (00:19:41) - Once the devil does.
Rodney (00:19:43) - Okay. Now he's like everybody saying, it's great to play for us. You know, we are legends and we are who we are. But really, music is about the people.
Karama (00:19:55) - Uh oh.
Rodney (00:19:55) - So you got to go to Earth and you got to be accepted by the people if you want to be a star. And so the devil goes to earth, but he finds out you've got all these other acts that you got to compete with and his demo, because no young people really like the blues skews older. Right? So certain people, you know, he eliminates a lot of bands and turns them to dust. U2 doesn't make it the Eagles, any of those people. Earth, wind and fire.
Karama (00:20:26) - Is it personal? Is that personal?
Rodney (00:20:28) - It's not personal. No no no no.
Karama (00:20:29) - Okay. I'm just second. God.
Rodney (00:20:31) - Just saw you too. I love you too. Big picture of me and Bono right over there. There you go. Alice Cooper is in this mix of stars that he's trying to eliminate.
Rodney (00:20:41) - And little does the devil know, but Alice Cooper has a relationship with the netherworld. And so they clash. And it ends up to where now we have a final, the final conflict between Alice Cooper and the devil at the crossroads. The musical crossroads, of course.
Karama (00:21:01) - Well, there's always a crossroads. That sounds incredible. Let's listen.
Rodney (00:21:04) - I it's fun. It's a lot of fun.
Karama (00:21:06) - I can't wait to also talk to you about your podcast run full, but we're going to have to take a break. Yes, but when we come back, we're going to talk to Rodney Barnes about his horror podcast anthology, Run Fool, and also how he gets all of this done. So we'll be right back.
Speaker 3 (00:21:31) - I was little.
Speaker 4 (00:21:32) - My grandmother used to tell me stories. Not calming bedtime parables. Fairy tales of the stuff of kid friendly fantasy. She told me horror stories, cautionary tales. The type of stuff that kept me up at night. These were rumours and folklore about grisly murders from parts of the country you're not used to hearing about.
Speaker 4 (00:21:54) - Creatures with unfinished earthly business that stalked the woods at night. Spirits that possessed children. Otherworldly phenomena capable of inducing madness. Restless souls. My grandmother eventually passed and I grew up. But these stories, they've stayed with me, haunted me. And this show. The thing you're listening to right now. This is my chance to exorcise them. To get them out of my mind and into yours. My name is Rodney Barnes, and every week I'll present a new harrowing story, a new immersive world, and a new opportunity for you to question your safety and at times, your sanity for you to scream out as victims question their circumstances. Don't just stand there. Run for. From Campsite Media at Will Media and Ball Studios. This is run full follow run for wherever you get your podcast. New episodes come out every Tuesday starting November 14th.
Rodney (00:23:10) - There you go.
Karama (00:23:11) - Welcome back to the Blair Girl podcast, y'all. I'm Karamo Horne, aka The Blurred Girl, and I have the legendary writer, producer, combo creator, and now podcaster Rodney Barnes with me.
Karama (00:23:25) - And we're going to talk about his new horror podcast, Run Fool. It's like an anthology of stories, right? It's not one long story.
Rodney (00:23:35) - No, it's it's anthology. Every week there's a new story, a new horror story, basically reading you a scary bedtime story. And the way it came together was I was talking to Matt Scher from a campsite media and another company. They had a they had done a podcast that I was going to adapt for television. And so weeks and weeks and weeks, we weren't we weren't able to put that together with me. But eventually they asked if I had anything podcast was would I be interested in doing a podcast? Because I had done the Winning Time podcast and that had been relatively successful. So I was like, sure, I love horror. Would you consider something in a horror space? So I came back to him with the concept. They dug it and we started developing it, and we've been developing it for the past six months or so and got some really great writers and folks and producers.
Rodney (00:24:32) - And Mr. Baldwin, who does, has his own thing and is huge in the podcast space and at will media and campsite. And so it's a big deal. A lot of work in podcasts. It's like another job.
Karama (00:24:46) - It is a lot of work. I co-produced and co-hosted a horror podcast last year called Pop Paranormal with my my boyfriend Chuck Collins. But it's a lot of work because there's a lot of moving parts, and then you get guests and your guests. It's timing, and then there's editing, and then you get to go back and do all the, you know, it's not as I don't even want to call this podcast simple, but I don't have all the sound effects and bells and whistles that you have. Is there like a writers room for a show like that? No.
Rodney (00:25:18) - They writers come, they're contract writers to actually write stories. A lot of it is based on folktales that already exist. So the framework is already there for most of the stories. It's just a matter of putting them together.
Rodney (00:25:34) - I mean, we operate, we have weekly meetings, sometimes biweekly, and we add and subtract, and all the producers have a hand in writing the episodes. There's a core team of writers that lay the foundation, but we all have a say and we all have a hand and we all get into it. So it's not official writer's room like in television, but there is certainly input from a lot of different places.
Karama (00:26:00) - Are you dropping everything at once? Are you doing. No. It's one week, okay?
Rodney (00:26:05) - Yes, one a week, I think the first. November the 14th or 15th. When it drops. There'll be two episodes released on that day. The trailer comes out on Halloween, and then we're off to the races for the next 48 weeks.
Karama (00:26:19) - For four wait, 4 to 8 weeks, or 48, 48.
Rodney (00:26:23) - Weeks.
Karama (00:26:23) - Whoa. Okay, so so you're not doing like ten episodes, season one and then take a break.
Rodney (00:26:30) - Eight episodes. It's an ongoing podcast.
Karama (00:26:32) - Wow. That is a yes.
Karama (00:26:35) - That is a job. That is a job. That's why you got that spiffy new microphone. I'm very proud of you.
Rodney (00:26:39) - Yeah. This is from Winning Time. That was the winning time okay. Now they're going to want it back. But yeah that's what daddy, don't tell them.
Karama (00:26:47) - Tell him you can't find it. Tell them you can't find it. Exactly. Listen, listen, I got this. If discovery calls, I'm in trouble because I ain't let this one go.
Rodney (00:26:56) - This microphone go. These headsets all upstairs. I don't want any of this.
Karama (00:27:02) - So I want to now hop into the why and the how of what you do. So my biggest question, what I've been meaning to ask you for a while is Substack. Yeah. So your media company Zombie Love Media.
Rodney (00:27:19) - Zombie Love Studios. But under that is media. But yes.
Karama (00:27:22) - The umbrella company is Zombie Love Studios. Now, Substack doesn't have to. They have a piece of that.
Rodney (00:27:28) - No.
Karama (00:27:29) - Okay. So that's yours.
Karama (00:27:30) - Yes. Okay. But you were one of the well, I want to say few black folks, but few people in general that I think it was. Back in 2020, it was announced that Substack was giving a deal to to several comic book creators. Now, I know you legally can't tell me all the specific specifics of the deal, but three years later, does it seem like it was worth it?
Rodney (00:27:51) - It does. I mean, I think that there isn't comics. I have such a hard time with marketing. I think it's it's folks like yourself that even keep the community alive. Certainly when you talk about people of color, because it's not like it was when I was growing up where you had comics on a spinner wreck in every store, and you could just get them for $0.20, and they were like disposable entertainment. Now they're five bucks, four bucks, five bucks, and you have to have a comic shop in your neighborhood, or you have to get them online someplace in order to be able to be a part of the community.
Rodney (00:28:28) - It's a lot harder. And I think the idea of the Substack being able to get it directly into people's hands in a digital way is a great idea. I just think that it's a commitment in and of itself just to continuously engage, engage, engage. So, you know, I'm blessed to be able to have that outlet, to be able to deal with folks directly. I just wish it was more structured somewhat the way a comic shop would be.
Karama (00:29:00) - But yeah, yeah, so that people can come in and find go to the direct and they know.
Rodney (00:29:04) - Exactly how to do a thing and they can, you know, take it in easier. But I still love the idea of it, and I love it.
Karama (00:29:11) - Because there's a lot of these little imprints digital popping up now like outside of Substack, like, oh, me and seven other artists that yes, eight writers are all coming together and we're going to do a thing. It's like, okay, but how do we get that, though?
Rodney (00:29:25) - Exactly.
Rodney (00:29:26) - That's the thing. The thing is, when you have so many people doing so many different things, you still come back to, this is great, but how do you get it in people's hands?
Karama (00:29:34) - And even as like on the press side, I remember like TKO, I'm just using an example. They've got a great thing and all of their their whole thing is not floppies, but graphic novels all the time. And they do great deals for their artists and writers and everything. But as press, it was like pulling teeth to get an interview or trying to get like, who do I talk to? And everybody's all on Twitter saying how amazing it is. And I'm like, awesome, can I talk to the person that made this though? Exactly. And it's like, who? What number do I, you know, what email. And so it's funny, one of the things I do on the side sometimes is coach creators on marketing, because even they're not even paying writers to write at outlets anymore.
Karama (00:30:20) - Like my whole column is gone in sci fi, like they're not even so. And then I'm looking like, should I start a Substack? But then it's the same thing. Like, how are they going to find me? How are they going to? So I'm hoping getting the this going again is going to is going to help. But yeah, it's it's really difficult and there's so much work that goes into these and especially like yourself because you got, you know, 15, 11 kids and 13 comic books month.
Rodney (00:30:49) - They seem like they get younger too. They don't get older and move out. They get they stay at they go anyway. Been ten for five years.
Karama (00:30:57) - No, but you know what? It's because eggs are. Are $10 in Cheerios or 15. Like you can't. They can't leave.
Rodney (00:31:04) - No. And they don't want to leave. There's no incentive. I couldn't wait to get out of my mother's house. You, me, both kids, they want to.
Karama (00:31:11) - I cross state lines.
Karama (00:31:12) - I had to go.
Rodney (00:31:13) - Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I left the planet if I couldn't, but. Yeah.
Karama (00:31:19) - So let's talk about that balance a little bit. How do you balance? I mean, right now you're not in a writer's room, but how did you balance winning time with Philadelphia and Substack. Like how do you mean it was.
Rodney (00:31:34) - And I was writing a couple of movies during the time and all of that. But I think zoom from Covid helped a lot. That helped an awful lot.
Karama (00:31:41) - People no longer felt the need to be like in the meeting.
Rodney (00:31:44) - It wasn't quite as what it was right before Covid. So.
Karama (00:31:48) - So no getting stuck on the ten for 32 hours.
Rodney (00:31:51) - Or five, 4 or 5. I was the one for five was the one, you know, I could make it around to ten, but I couldn't make it. You need the 4 or 5 unless you try Sepulveda. And everybody else has that idea now too.
Karama (00:32:02) - And now it's a parking lot.
Rodney (00:32:04) - Yeah. So zoom, zoom was really the big thing.
Karama (00:32:08) - I subscribed to Dark Apocrypha, which is a Substack. Do you have something that helps you write that? Are you writing and then have somebody else edit it and get it out? Like, how are you getting all the things moving?
Rodney (00:32:19) - One of my assistants, I have two assistants, Carlos and Anthony Anthony does. He manages the majority of the newsletter and cobbling all the information and basically pitching how things work and go. And this week we should talk about this and yeah, yeah, that sounds good. Do that. He could be saying anything about me. Anthony, I love you.
Karama (00:32:41) - Just so you honestly, he's making you sound amazing.
Rodney (00:32:44) - Thank you Anthony I appreciate it.
Karama (00:32:46) - So Anthony get give Anthony a nice Christmas present because Anthony is working his tail off.
Rodney (00:32:51) - He is keeping people engaged and he seems like he enjoys doing it. So there you go. But yeah Anthony does that. Carlos helps with the books and the scripts and both of them kind of help back and forth with research and doing things.
Rodney (00:33:04) - And I'm doing Jack Johnson right now for HBO. And Anthony has been, you know, invaluable as far as getting and getting research and, you know, little tidbits and anecdotes about Jack's life. And then on the other side, Carlos is helping with a couple of others. So it's always something to do.
Karama (00:33:22) - Yeah. Carlos gets to the plane on time. Yes. That's awesome. Now, you were on Tananarive Due and Stephen Barnes podcast not too long ago, right? For your life. Love them. Friends of the show. They've been here also horror aficionados as well. Um, but I was surprised when you were talking a little bit about some of the imposter syndrome that you have battled in the past. I shouldn't say surprised because I guess everybody goes through it. My question is, do you still have that? Do you still have these moments? Oh, yeah. How do you how do you get past you who have like, Emmy winning shows and Eisner nominated comic books? How do you get past imposter syndrome?
Rodney (00:34:04) - I keep going, I remember one time I've never really used drugs before, but there was this time where they had to give me a I had some type of issue going on.
Rodney (00:34:15) - They gave me a painkiller, and it was the first time I had anything hard. And my pain, it may be, understand the way painkillers work. The pain is still there, but it's like over here someplace.
Karama (00:34:28) - That was Percocet. Okay, because no Dilaudid. Oh, it's a lot of.
Rodney (00:34:32) - A lot of the.
Karama (00:34:33) - Same thing I had. I had the same thing. And I said, oh, this is a problem because I get it now. Yeah.
Rodney (00:34:39) - Understood. Crackheads understood all of those people because it was almost like I could see my pain over there, and I didn't want it to come back. But it was this weird thing. And I look at imposter syndrome and insecurity. The first ten years of my career, massively plagued with insecurity around so many great, talented folks. And I, you know, trying to figure out a way to jump in and find some value. And even when I did something good, you know, you still can't see it for what it is because you're feeling what you're feeling.
Rodney (00:35:16) - And insecurity has a weird way of creating a sense of its own unique narcissism of you're so worried that people are going to see you and the person that you think is inferior, that you kind of create a barrier between the beauty of creativity, the ability to work with others, the ability to be empathetic with the people around you because your whole focus is just your fear, and it paralyzes you in a way. And so for me, right around 2010, 2011, the bottom kind of fell out of my career for a relatively short period of time. I got really, really sick, almost died, and sitting in a hospital room, I sort of made a decision that if I ever get a second chance. As to be back. I would handle it differently. And I'd start to work more from Shout out to DeVaughn Franklin. He came in and prayed for me and I was like, the prayer was so great. He should have saved that for the eulogy. But it was he really the message behind what he was saying was really? And Davon Franklin is the sexiest preacher on earth.
Rodney (00:36:20) - He's like especially younger T.D. Jakes, you know, he just need some initials. Davon is cool, but if he could be DC like DC young Fly, but.
Karama (00:36:28) - Yes, yes.
Rodney (00:36:30) - And his the message within his prayer was about working from your heart, not necessarily from your head. All of this stuff is in my head. And what made me, whatever it is that I have that's good, that's connected to this industry comes from my heart. So if you can disconnect from your head just to get into it, and you'll begin to see things as they are, not necessarily how they feel. And that started to become sort of the the approach. And I started to do more work. If you look at my IMDb of my credits, you'll see A Tale of Two Careers. You'll see sitcoms, sitcom, sitcom. Then all of a sudden I start doing dramas and genre and all this other stuff and comic books and these things, and I just started to work more from a place of what do I really want to do? And what do I think I do best, more so than just taking a job and just saying yes, yes, yes.
Rodney (00:37:25) - I love all of the work that I've done, and all of it was sort of a boot camp of sorts to teach me. But you don't realize that when you're in a place of fear, you don't realize the good thing that you're getting from being in the environments that you and you only see the parts that hurt or the parts that feel bad. So to answer your question in a long winded way, I still feel those things. I feel I still feel the impulses when I get a big gig. I just got a couple of really big gigs with iconic characters, and the first thing that pops in the head is you don't want to mess it up. I don't want to mess this up. I want this to be perfect. A it's not going to be perfect, be anything I've ever written. That was something that I'm proud of. A whole, near and dear was something that I went over 100 times and needed and just put myself into. If I do that with these things, there's a sense of confidence now that didn't exist before that all I have to do is have the psychological and emotional endurance to stay with it long enough that it'll turn out as I want it to be, how it's going to be received.
Rodney (00:38:29) - You can't control it, you know. You can't control how people are going to take a thing and they see what you were trying to do. But more often than not, what I was intending gets through when I put in the requisite work. And that can only happen if I'm able to put whatever's in my head like that drug off to the side. Then it can come back and it will come back.
Karama (00:38:50) - So it sounds like you, instead of fighting it, you acknowledge it, which is sort of like you're saying, go to your room. Yes, I will deal with you when I'm finished work today.
Rodney (00:39:00) - Yes. In the beginning, the part that was the most painful was I wouldn't acknowledge it. I wore a mask. Yeah, I'm the coolest guy. And this is easy. And this is great. And inside you're dying. You know, inside you're like, you have to live with yourself. And it becomes almost torture because every day you have to go through that same process of wearing this mask in an environment where it's already hard enough, just as it is.
Karama (00:39:28) - Exactly. And you're putting another barrier in front of yourself, another barrier.
Rodney (00:39:32) - And as soon as you can take that mask off and take off whatever pretentiousness comes with it, and you're able to just operate from a place of truth and be willing to mess up, be willing to fall on your face. Be willing to not pitch a joke, to pitch a joke that doesn't work, or to fail. Once you see that that doesn't kill you, you know, then you're able to continuously. In football, it's like when a quarterback throws an interception, he doesn't quit and just walk off the field. You go back, there's another play. You keep playing. The game's not over yet. And it's the same thing with this to see.
Karama (00:40:06) - That was your Ted talk right there. That that's your nugget.
Rodney (00:40:09) - I just don't know if I could stand up for 45 minutes. You know, after a while, the guy give me a cheer like a blues singer, like to know.
Karama (00:40:17) - How do you balance client work that licensed Mandalorian work and your personal work? Or is do you consider it all personal work now?
Rodney (00:40:23) - Balance.
Rodney (00:40:23) - Every morning when I wake up, there's about 100 emails. 30 of them are people yelling. Whoever's yelling the loudest and cussing the loudest is one that I addressed the most, the first. That's where you know. No, it really is. Every day there's a sense of chaos. You know, I get up as early as I possibly can and I start working and I try to. I can only do one at a time. Now, I used to be able to do three projects at a time and move my head around. Now it's like I do one right now. Philadelphia issue 33 I'm working on right now. And once that's finished, I will move to. I've got some pages on Luke Cage and then I owe. I have a Star Wars thing with some pages on, so it's a constant. It's a constant sense of always writing. Stephen King says you have homework for the rest of your life.
Karama (00:41:17) - I can see that to be a working comic book writer, working artist, you have to it's volume.
Rodney (00:41:23) - And you have to embrace that. It's like there are times when I get petulant about it. There are times when I just don't feel like doing this. And the part that's the professional says, regardless of how you feel, you show up and whether it's a holiday, whether it's something you really want to do outside and you want to go outside and play with your friends, you still sit down and you do the work.
Karama (00:41:45) - Yeah. Well, I am so excited about the podcast, about Philadelphia, about spawn, about prints, about Alice Cooper, Richard Pryor, Richard Pryor, everybody, as well as these unnamed horror, this unnamed horror Star Wars show has me intrigued, so I can't wait to hear more about that.
Rodney (00:42:05) - A lot of spooky stuff. You are so prepared because you were talking about 3 or 4 things. I'm like, how does she know that?
Karama (00:42:11) - Homework.
Rodney (00:42:11) - See, you know this one. So yeah, yeah, yeah, you are prepared. Kudos to you man.
Karama (00:42:16) - But also thank you.
Karama (00:42:17) - But also kudos to your newsletter. You know writer Anthony because he had he has he's keeping them coming a couple of times a week.
Rodney (00:42:25) - Love for Anthony. Every once in a while they pop up. And I was like oh yeah it is another week. And then, you know, he reminds me of what I'm doing. I'm like, I'm doing that too. Oh man.
Karama (00:42:33) - See, I got to get me an Anthony. I need to get somebody to write. You need a letter. So I mean it's not cheap.
Rodney (00:42:37) - No, Anthony's not cheap. I know I could have an apartment. I could have another apartment or someplace by the beach without. If I just got rid of Anthony. Not that I can't, Anthony. I can't get.
Karama (00:42:47) - Rid of it. You can't do that. Anthony is a man. Thank you so much for hanging out. Tell everybody where they can find you.
Rodney (00:42:55) - At the Rodney Barnes on Twitter and Instagram. Instagram is the one that's the most fun though. Yes, where.
Karama (00:43:03) - We X is a problem these days yeah I.
Rodney (00:43:06) - Haven't yes. And I haven't figured out TikTok yet. You know I'm trying my kids like oh daddy's easy. All you gotta do is there's the dance and I'm like, I.
Karama (00:43:14) - Don't know, you don't have to dance. We're going to have a conversation. You do great on TikTok. You ain't got to dance.
Rodney (00:43:19) - Yeah. So I'm like that. That's it. I'll figure that out though.
Karama (00:43:23) - Are you on blue Sky? Are you on Blue Skies?
Rodney (00:43:25) - Yes, but I don't. I think I pressed it twice because you got threads. You got the blue sky, you got X, you got Instagram, you got Facebook and you got TikTok. And I'm. And you, I'm forgetting two.
Karama (00:43:37) - And you've got 300 emails, so.
Rodney (00:43:39) - And you got 300 with 30 people cussing me out at the same time.
Karama (00:43:43) - Are you going to be doing any more conventions? And I'm kicking myself for not getting Blacula signed when I saw you, but I.
Rodney (00:43:50) - Am doing Galaxy Con. Okay, December 1st two, the third in Columbus, Ohio. Okay, I'm doing the Louisiana Book Fair at LSU the week after next. I don't know exactly what the day is, but the week after next I'm doing that and I think that's it for this year. A whole lot of next year, though, it's 35 of them next year. Yeah. And then the podcast they're sending me to the monster conventions for the podcast. So I'll be doing the monster conventions, the cons and the book fairs. And I just never I live in the air.
Karama (00:44:25) - Well, I'm glad we caught you before all that you did before I took off. Yes.
Rodney (00:44:29) - Sucks on planes.
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